Considering a career in interior design? Or one specifically specializing in senior living design? With nearly 30 years in the in senior living interior design space, we know what it takes to stand out in this field. While there are many skills one must have, our top three are below. Let us know if you have any to add!


  1. Understanding of Space Programming

If you think interior design is all about colors and fabrics, think again! Designing for senior living requires a unique, niche understanding of the way the communities function.

“So much of what we do is centered around understanding how certain rooms will be used, what areas will serve multiple functions, and how spaces can be flexible for future needs,” says Rachel Gooding, Warner Design Associates Interior Designer.

For example, a common room might be used for both entertainment events such as performances or movie viewings and staff trainings. As a senior living interior designer, one must consider how that room can efficiently and effectively function to serve both of those functions.

Another example of understanding space programming for senior living interior design is understanding the demographic. For example, certain rooms or areas that are too far apart from each other may prevent residents from engaging in activities due to the physical demand of getting there.

If interested in pursuing a career in this growing industry, ensure that you understand the daily routines, habits, and needs of both the senior living community operator and the residents in order to plan efficient, effective, enjoyable spaces.


  1. Familiarity with ADA Codes and Universal Design Principles

The Department of Justice published revised regulations of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 “ADA” in 2010. These are called the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, sometimes referred to as “2010 Standards” or “Standards” which set enforceable requirements for newly designed and constructed or altered  “State and local government facilities, public accommodations, and commercial facilities to be readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities.”

Due to the demographics of residents and senior living communities, and in order to follow codes, senior living designers must have a keen understanding of all of the ADA regulations.


  1. Empathy

By definition, “empathy” is “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another”.  In senior living, “interior designers must have empathy so you can understand and appreciate the strengths, struggles and desires of the aging population,” says Gooding.

This in turn allows you to create the best design for the unique needs of seniors.  At Warner Designs, it’s a joy being able to improve the lives of seniors by creating safe, comfortable, home-like communities, and empathy for the senior population is a valued trait.

If you’re considering a career in senior living interior design, speak with Warner Design Associates about questions or career opportunities!

What other important skills or traits do you find vital for a successful career as a senior living designer?